Shropshire Chamber of Commerce has set itself ‘ambitious but achievable’ growth targets after a year which has seen membership numbers expand and diversify.
The Chamber revealed at its annual meeting that it was seeking to double its membership over the next three years, helped by the launch of a number of initiatives.
They include a suite of innovative and creative events embracing topics and sectors that are relevant to the burning issues of today, and short-sharp training courses to help upskill the local workforce.
Chief executive Richard Sheehan also announced that the Chamber would be unveiling a ‘new and exciting’ website, allowing companies to interact with the team and other members in fresh ways.
Another key factor on recent growth is the Chamber’s revamped membership model, including a new Charity Membership Fund giving free membership to charities and not-for-profit organisations.
The fund is delivered in conjunction with Enterprise Flex-E-Rent, McPhillips and Aico – three ‘ambassadors’ which have all donated to support the third sector.
Mia Carter, Shropshire Chamber’s director of membership, said: “The fund gives the third sector access to our essential level membership, which includes a host of benefits such as HR, tax, legal services and health and safety support.
“It also entitles them to a wide range of discounted training programmes, and attendance at six Chamber’s network club sessions of their choice.”
To qualify for consideration, the organisations must have a Shropshire postcode, and an annual turnover of less than £1 million. All applications will be assessed and considered by the Ambassadors panel, who will make the final decision.
The latest Shropshire-based organisation to benefit from the programme is PALZ, which supports people who have held challenging and demanding jobs, and who are now living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
It gives them a social environment that relates to their previous working environment boosting their self-respect and confidence as well as providing mental stimulation.
After establishing a successful local Shropshire group with generous sponsorship by local businesses, the next step is to create other groups across the UK.
Liz Holdsworth, who chairs the group, visited Aico’s headquarters in Oswestry to receive her membership.
She said: “As a recently established charity we are enormously grateful for the access to membership of the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and the support that is available.
“We are privileged to able to be able to receive their support towards our objectives in helping people with dementia. We are looking forward to a mutually rewarding future.”
She added: “PALZ – Professionals with Alzheimer’s – meetings take place every two months and feature a variety of interesting speakers that provide intellectual stimulation to the audience.
“We have found that the meetings increase self-respect, confidence and mental stimulation in a friendly atmosphere.
“It is a great opportunity to meet others in a similar situation and of course supportive friends and relatives are also very welcome.”
Shropshire Chamber’s Charity Membership Fund has a limit on the number of memberships that it can provide, but there are currently still a few vacancies.